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Car Rental Insurance?

I keep seeing that renters impose an "excess" (deductible) and I'm a little confused. In the US I'm used to declining the CDW but I don't understand the language used here. What does this mean?

I have a US Amex card that offers full coverage that I hope to use so that I can decline everything the rental offers. I know that all renters include liability so will I be okay?

I don't want to pay for anything extra if I don't have to. Can someone explain the language clearly of what "excess" means?


Posted by
5678 posts

When you get the "full" coverage you won't get any charges. In The UK and in Europe (and with some US firms these days) they document every scratch and ding that is in your car. You really want to compare the car to the document as if there is new ding, you will have to pay if you don't get the extra insurance. In the US I too don't worry about this as I know our cars, our roads and we have left hand drive. With right hand drive it is extremely likely that you will at the very least bang the wheels into the Corbin your zeal to stay right! Also, the roads are narrow. I love the wee roads of Scotland, but sometimes they can lead to scrapes.

But just like in the US it needs your assessment of how much risk you want to carry.


Posted by
3618 posts

Since you have an AMEX card, you should look into their Premium Rental Car insurance. Once you enroll, it kicks in every time you use the cc to rent a car. It costs from $18 - 25 for a period of up to 42 days - - that's not per day. If you call them, an agent can explain the ins and outs. BTW, I agree that the language used in those rental agreements is very unclear.

Posted by
7574 posts

We rented & drove in Scotland this past summer, and while we've used the coverage provided by our Visa card elsewhere in Europe, we determined we were just stuck with the mandatory "excess" included in the rental price. We did not opt to "buy down" the excess, where for an additional fee, the rental company would've waived more of the deductible than under their regular terms.

You may have noted that, even if you paid the maximum amount for their maximum coverage in case you had an accident or scrapes/dings, they probably exclude tires (tyres), wheels/hubcaps, and side-view mirrors from their coverage, so you'd be liable for those things in any event.

Driving between Inverness and the Isle of Skye, we encountered one guy on the side of the road who'd hit a water-filled pothole that blew out his left tire. We also encountered motorists coming towards us on narrow roads, who failed to stay on their side of the center line (lots of tourists like us from places where you drive on the right side of the road, but some of them had ferried their own cars over, and they were driving with their steering wheel on the left side of the car), so paying for some piece of mind under all those circumstances might not be such a bad deal.

Gas is about $9 a gallon, though, so if you're looking to save money while driving, gas up if you find a place that's even a few pence cheaper per gallon.

Posted by
48 posts

I will second Rosalyn's recommendation of the Premium Car Rental Protection through American Express. It was really easy to sign up for it online. We banged up the rental car a bit in Norway and AmEx was great to deal with. Having that insurance saved us a couple of thousand dollars. If you have that, you can decline any other insurance offered through the rental car agency.

You must use the AmEx card to pay for the rental if you want to use the special protection. Just make sure you read the rental agreement fine print and have enough space on the credit card for a hold, if your car rental company will require one be put on your card. Hertz in Norway didn't put any hold on our card, but AutoEurope in Scotland wanted at least £1000 free on the card to put a hold on any potential damage (even though we had the AmEx protection). We spent the first three hours of our time in Scotland in the rental car area on the phone trying to move money around to free up that space on the card so we could be sure to use the that card and its protection.

Posted by
7574 posts

As I recall, the smaller, non-international companies we used (Arnold Clark in Inverness, Bolt in Shetland, W.R. Tullock in Orkney) included the excess/deductible in their prices, so there was no dollar amount we could waive. We did use our Visa card anyway (no foreign transaction fees) and, again, opted to not purchase surplus additional coverage, but for better or worse, their basic insurance coverage was already built into the rental cost. We asked about waiving the coverage, and were told that was not an option with any of them.